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ERIC Number: ED564456
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Feb
Pages: 57
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 66
What Works for Disconnected Young People: A Scan of the Evidence. MDRC Working Paper
Treskon, Louisa
The purpose of this paper was to conduct a scan of the current state of the evidence regarding what works in helping disconnected young people, defined as the population of young people ages 16 to 24 who are not connected to work or school. The following four main research questions were investigated: (1) What local, state, and federal policies have an impact on disconnected young people? What policies are helping improve services for this population? What policies are barriers to creating effective programs?; (2) What programs have been shown to be effective in serving disconnected young people? What evaluations in process have the potential to contribute to the evidence base?; (3) What is known about the effectiveness of system-level approaches, also called "collective impact approaches?"; and (4) Where are there gaps in services or knowledge? What programs or practices should be targeted for further research or expansion? MDRC conducted a literature review of relevant policies and programs. The literature reviewed included writing on impact, quasi-experimental, and implementation studies. MDRC also conducted reviews of numerous websites to learn about current policy trends and evaluations in process. To supplement what was learned from written materials, MDRC interviewed a number of practitioners in the field, including representatives from foundations, coalitions, and research organizations. The main findings included: (1) Policies affecting disconnected young people span a range of systems, including public schools; adult basic and secondary education; and the juvenile justice, foster care, and mental health systems. As a result services, funding, and research are often uncoordinated and fragmented, though collective impact or system-level approaches are attempting to combat these challenges; (2) Though program impacts may be modest or short-lived, successful programs share some common features. These include: opportunities for paid work and the use of financial incentives; strong links among education, training, and the job market; the use of youth development approaches; comprehensive support services; and support after programs end; (3) Programs share some common implementation challenges, including: outreach and enrollment practices that may limit the populations they serve; difficulties keeping young people engaged in a program long enough to benefit from it; staff turnover; and difficulties addressing young people's barriers to participation, particularly their lack of transportation and child care; (4) The field's understanding of what works in serving disconnected young people could advance significantly in the coming years, as more than a dozen evaluations of programs are currently under way, including evaluations of collective impact approaches; and (5) There are gaps in the existing services available: There are not enough programs for young people who are not motivated to reconnect to education or the job market on their own, nor for young people who have low basic skills, especially those who have aged out of the public school system. The areas where there are gaps in services also tend to be areas where there is little evidence regarding what works. Selected Evaluations of Programs for Disconnected Young People is appended.
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Youth Transition Funders Group (YTFG)
Authoring Institution: MDRC